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August 27, 2017

How many journal entries do you use for two signers on three documents?

Filed under: Journals — Tags: , — admin @ 11:51 pm

Many states don’t require a journal. However, your journal is your only evidence if you are investigated. As a Notary, for every 3000 Notary appointments (not acts) you do, you will probably be investigated once based on my personal experience. If fraud is involved on anybody’s part and you don’t have a journal entry, you will have no evidence and could be pulled into court for weeks which would result in your loss of income.

Additionally, we recommend the use of thumbprints in your journal for all critical notarizations, especially those involving Power of Attorney documents Living Wills, or Deeds affecting real estate. It only takes a few seconds to thumbprint someone. A thumbprint cannot be faked, but ID can, so you have no reason not to take thumbprints, and plenty of security related reasons to do so. NNA sells inkless thumbprinters for about $15.

If your state doesn’t require journals, use one anyway for your protection.

Back to the question. If there are TWO signers and THREE documents, you will need SIX journal entries. One per document per signer. What some Notaries do is they create one journal entry per signer and then indicate a list of all the notarized documents they signed. This is wrong and perhaps illegal. Not only is it bad to only create one journal entry per signer, but you might forget to add a document, or if there are cross outs after the fact it will look very sketchy.

However, you don’t need to write all of the info for each journal entry. The signer’s name, address, and ID information can be copied by putting a down arrow or “ditto” quotation marks. However, legally, the signer needs to sign for each document that is notarized and the name of the document, date, time, and type of notary act needs to be indicated for each document.

Additionally, there is an “additional notes” section of each journal entry near the right. If the building looks unusual you can take notes about the building. If the signer is acting weird or looks weird or has a tattoo on his neck or anything else unusual, you should write that in your journal to jog your memory if you ever have to go to court.

I did about 7000 Notary appointments and they all became a blurr to me. The only people I remember were Gary, the guy who blew up his apartment while experimenting with explosives (not a good idea) and a Korean lady who had me notarize the sales of her massage parlors (she paid cash). I also remember Dr. Kwak (pronounced Dr. Quack) who was an acupuncturist. I vaguely remember an impatient rich guy who lived in West Hollywood, did business deals in his pajamas, and played golf. And of course Mr. Yee the Attorney who had me do all of the Health Care Directives each with 80 pages of which I embossed every single page every single time to be prudent.

So, the moral of the story is that if you don’t know how to use your journal like a pro, the NNA has tutorials that you can purchase, and they are highly recommended as they could keep you out of court (or jail.) Or both!


You might also like:

What entities might want to see your journal?

NNA – what every notary needs to know about notary journals



  1. Why are you saying for notaries to thumbprint anyway. We cannot in the state of Texas, therefore you are giving false and erroneous information and telling notaries to do something illegal. What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander. Get your facts straight before you get people in trouble.

    Comment by Deborah Genoway — November 19, 2017 @ 9:31 pm

  2. If a document is dated November 2017 and ID matches information on document. Can I notarized this document? Client miss placed the document.

    Comment by Nanette Spencer — May 10, 2018 @ 3:05 am

  3. Yep, “TWO signers and THREE documents, you will need SIX journal entries.” Agreed. I write out enough of an entry to identify the document. Sometimes I will write “E & O” as an abreviation, but if is also a Compliance Agreement, I print that out as well. I only thumbprint for the Affidavit of Identiy for signers of out of state car puchases. Cook County, IL requires thumbprints, but the other counties in IL do not. Btw, the NNA sells a neat, little “inkless thumbprint pad.” I bought one a long time before I ever used it, but glad that I did. I have used it many times since.

    Comment by Betty Dedman — May 12, 2018 @ 2:12 am

  4. These articles, of information and suggestions, appear to be written generally. Primarily, I would assume, because separating state-by-state would be impossible. Therefore, Ms, Genoway should consider suggestions read as such. If it is illegal for the notary to take thumbprints, then don’t. However, more states require thumbprints for critical docs while others want them for any/all notarizations. I do notary work in Pennsylvania but began in California. I brought the best practices from California (thumbprints required) to Pennsylvania because it is another way to protect myself for future (anticipated) legal possibilities by fraudulent cases or whatever. Suggestion is to read the articles and tid bits of information that is and can be used by you legally…….and disregard the rest.

    Comment by Molly Richardso n — May 12, 2018 @ 11:12 am

  5. See my comment at http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19373 (this article was about using journals with check boxes). To address your points:
    – Thumbprints. Having multiple documents specified either via check boxes or writing them in the journal has no effect on thumbprints. It’s never unacceptable to have a thumbprint refer to a document that doesn’t require one (or to have a thumbprint for any notarized document).
    – ‘…might forgot to add a document’. This is a valid point. Furthermore, multiple documents per journal entry could allow a notary to add a document after the signing is completed (convenient, but probably the only valid reason to NOT specify multiple documents in a journal entry). Of course, even with one doc per entry, a notary could leave them blank during the signing and fill them in later, presenting the same potential issue as multiple docs per entry.
    – ‘cross outs after the fact…’. This could occur with single entries just as easily as with multiple entries.
    – using ditto marks for identifying info – doesn’t this present a problem if a copy of the journal entry is required? Now you’d have to copy all journal entries for that signer so the ID info appears – that partially defeats the purpose of the ‘single entry’ argument (not showing other non-related documents when providing a journal entry copy).

    Comment by BobH — May 13, 2018 @ 5:17 pm

  6. It’s good to know that your journal is your only evidence if you get investigated as a notary. My daughter wants to become a notary. I’ll share this information with her so that she can be prepared for any legal situations that may occur.

    Comment by Tyson Coolidge — October 9, 2019 @ 5:49 pm

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